Chocolate Caramel Coconut Squares

It's almost Valentine's Day, so clearly we need some chocolate in our lives right?!

These little bites are pretty much perfection. They're reminiscent of a millionaire's shortbread bar, but made with whole food ingredients and virtually no refined sugar. The base is made with ground walnuts and oat flour. The caramel layer is mainly dates, and the top layer is melted 70% dark chocolate sprinkled with sea salt and toasted coconut.

Chocolate Coconut Caramel Bars

For the Crust:
1 cup walnuts
1 cup oat flour
1/4 cup raw honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 tsp. salt

Line an 8x8" baking pan with parchment paper. 

Add walnuts to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add remaining crust ingredients and process until crumbly and the mixture holds together when pressed between your fingers. Transfer to baking pan and press very firmly into an even layer. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. 

For the Caramel:
12 dates, pitted
1/4 cup almond butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. maca powder
1 tsp. coconut oil
1/8 tsp. salt
3-5 Tbs. date water

Soak dates in near boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain well, but reserve soaking liquid.

In the same food processor used for the crust (no need to clean it), combine all of the caramel ingredients except the reserved date water. Process mixture until a paste forms. Add date water one tablespoon at a time until a thick, but spreadable consistency is reached.

Spread caramel evenly over crust. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until crust has completely cooled and caramel has firmed up. 

For the Topping:
4 ounces 70%+ dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp. coconut oil
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
Flakey sea salt

Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler. Pour melted chocolate over chilled bars, then sprinkle with coconut flakes and sea salt. 

Refrigerate until chocolate is just set. Un-mold and cut into 16 bars. 

Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.